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How to Use a Dog Spray Collar
to Stop Barking Safely and Swiftly

A dog spray collar can help you stop dog barking, jumping, counter-surfing and many other problem behaviors. However, finding the right one and using it correctly is key to your success. Any dog barking collar should be accompanied with a training program.

These dog collars usually refer to citronella dog collars, which use a solution made with oils from a type of lemongrass, also effective as a mosquito repellent. You might also find some anti-barking spray collars that use water or lemon juice mist.

A dog spray collar works by punishing your dog every time he/she barks (automatic) or does something he shouldn't (you need to be involved). This type of collar is considered the most humane because it does not deliver a shock or hurts the animal in any way.

However, you are still using punishment as the main method to get rid of barking, this negative technique can be harmful to fearful or anxious dogs. It may also cause depression in some dogs. In those cases I highly recommend you follow a positive training program exclusively.

How does a dog spray collar work?

Citronella dog collar advantages and disadvantages

The way citronella dog collars work is by sending a misty citronella puff near your dog’s nose. The spray both distracts your dog from barking and punishes him. The punishment is simply the bad scent they smell. Unlike dogs, humans do not find the smell of Citronella unpleasant, on the contrary some people use this scent for aromatherapy.

Although citronella is safe to use even around young kids, ingesting large quantities may be harmful and if accidentally sprayed into the eye, it can cause irritation.

Please understand that the use of anti-barking collars is based on punishment. I personally do NOT recommend the use of any type of electronic or dog spray training collars. That said, I understand that some people still want to use them. My goal is for you to pick the right one and use it along a training program for effectiveness and to shorten the time the dog needs to wear it.

Citronella collars are called humane because they do not cause pain to punish, but all the disadvantages of using punishment training still apply. For best results, you MUST also reward good behavior.

Anti-barking dog spray collar training program

dog spray collar, citronella dog collar

Like any dog barking problem, you first need to figure out why your furry friend is being so loud. He might be scared, bored, excited or protective. He might simply want to alarm you of possible threats (like cats and the evil mailman). Each problem has a slightly different training program that you can read more about by clicking on each link.

Following are some general training rules that will be useful for all dog barking problems:

  • Teach your dog the “quiet” and “settle” commands.
  • Provide exercise and puzzle toys to your dog, some dogs bark because they are bored. Giving them something to do instead is a great way to stop dog barking and prevent the use of a dog spray collar for long periods of time.
  • Be a confident and kind leader to your pet by showing him that you have the situation under control. For example, by placing yourself in between your pooch and the “threat”, and then removing him to a “safer place”. Understand that what might seem a threat to your canine friend, will not necessarily seem like danger to you. You still need to “protect” your furry best friend, even from your “dangerous” 2-year old toddler nephew.
  • Reward your hound for being quiet, specially in the presence of the barking trigger.

What is the best and safest dog spray collar to buy?

As a rule I advice against buying cheap dog barking collars because they can have activation problems that will confuse your hound instead of train him. When you are shopping for a citronella dog collar try to find the following features:

  • The dog spray collar has a dual sensor: It only activates when it detects both a bark sound and a throat vibration. This prevents activation by other pets or sounds in the environment. 
  • A warning signal before the spray is preferred. Ideally, the collar would have a sound or vibration that happens immediately before the citronella is sprayed. This allows the dog to stop barking and avoid being drizzled with unpleasant citronella. With training your canine friend will stop barking at the sound alone and evade the citronella altogether. This is a good training practice and it will also save you money, since you won’t need to refill the collar as often. 
  • Levels of spray correction: Some dogs may be too sensitive to the spray while others might not be bothered at all. If the device comes with adjustable levels, you might be more likely to find a setting that works for your canine friend. 
  • Regardless of which collar you pick, you need to follow a training program to stop dog barking. Below you will find a sample one.

These are some dog spray collars that have one or two of the above features and good reviews as well:

Petsafe dog collars

***Best Option***

All Petsafe anti-barking dog collars come with dual sensors. This particular one also has two settings and a warning tone option to teach your pooch to be quiet before the spray happens (and avoid it). It comes with a remote control to be able to be an active participant in training (from a distance).

Petsafe Spray Commander Dog Training Collar

PetSafe Elite is a dog spray collar designed for small dogs. It can also be refilled with water or unscented liquids and is water resistant, to use in hunting or camping excursions. There is also a big dog Elite collar.

PetSafe Elite Spray Bark Collar for Little Dogs

Petsafe Gentle is the basic dog citronella collar. All you have to do is put it on your dog.

PetSafe Gentle Spray Bark Collar

***Best Option***

Petsafe also design a remote reward trainer. It is the complete opposite of a barking collar because instead of punishment it uses rewards when the dog is quiet or doing the desired behavior. It can be used with fearful and anxious dogs safely. It may require your involvement at least in the beginning.

PetSafe Treat & Train Remote Reward Dog Trainer

Innotek dog training collars

It is not a “barking” dog collar because it isn't activated by your dog’s barking. Instead you control when to spray with a remote. The advantage of this collar is that you will be actively training your pooch and can reward instantly for good behavior. Because you can control it at a distance, your pooch will not associate the punishment with _you_, which is a downside of punishment training. The collar also comes with a beep sound that can be used for training, for example as a warning signal to alert your canine friend that he is about to be punished if he doesn’t quiet down. 

Innotek Spray Commander Remote Training System

Keep in mind that you need to refill the collar every so often. Your dog will actually learn that the collar empties and then he is free to bark again. Same with batteries!

Will a citronella dog collar work for my dog?

It depends. Some dogs are not bothered at all by the scent or the spray in the nose. If your hound falls within this group, you are out of luck. Other dogs, actually get used to it and the device becomes obsolete. That said, a recent study found that citronella dog collars were more effective at stopping dog barking than shock collars. So, try one for yourself.

You also need to understand that just putting the collar around your mongrel’s neck will not solve your nuisance barking problem. Without a training program in place, you will find that your pooch still barks when he doesn’t have the citronella dog collar on (canines are smart!) and you can’t have him wearing the collar all the time, since this is not recommended and it is not safe if your pooch is unattended. Additionally, if you have your dog wear the collar for long hours, daily, eventually he will get used to it.

My advice, use the training program outlined above for your particular case along with a dog spray collar for best results.

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